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The Delivery - the fourth part of our serial

Updated: Dec 15, 2022

We are taking turns writing a story. The prompt we took was:

"Flowers came to my house every other Monday exactly at 1 o’clock"

We are each writing a piece, but we have no idea where it will end up, and can't wait to see where that will be.

Read the story so far in the previous post, and then this latest one from Sarah Perret.

Part Four

by Sarah Perret

It’s all Greek to Me

So, the chocolates are just chocolates. It

was a panic attack, they said at the hospital. Too much stressing about my missed deadlines and creepy flower deliveries, on top of the divorce, let’s not forget. Still, rather embarrassing to be told that my imagination got the better of me and I momentarily lost my grip on reality.

I went back to the shop yesterday to ask Roberta about the chocolates, but she was just turning the open sign to closed as I walked up – I could have sworn she was deliberately avoiding my eye as she did so. No more leads there, then. I can almost hear Bertie’s Germanic tones berating me for lack of progress.

Here I am, sitting in the front window waiting for the next delivery (bit of a nervous habit now). There’s the delivery guy approaching in his van. He waits patiently while I fumble to get it together and unlock the door.

“Sorry – another lot for you,” he has forgiven me for the bollard incident then.

We have reached a sort of understanding now it seems, both of us are on the same page about the strangeness of the canna lily deliveries. I am grateful for this. I feel less mad.

“Thanks – I think!” What can I say?

“Keeps me in a job, eh?!” What can he do?

“Well, that’s true. Have a good day.”

It’s a smile on my lips, but a wry one. I am left alone again on my doorstep in the autumn sunshine watching as the van disappears up the road. Sad, but he is the only person who can begin to understand how unnerving this whole episode has been for me.

Oh well. Back to the lonely life of a writer. Hope Martha doesn’t call today, I haven’t managed a single word so far.

Best to beat a retreat inside, away from the brisk breeze. At least mine is a warm-ish home. Hang on a minute – wow, that’s so bright I can barely see! Reflected light bounces right onto my retina. In my experience, the only thing that can be as blinding as that is… Someone has binoculars trained on my face! I have to squint hard because the light is piercing, but I am damned well going to find out who.

The light dies in an instant. Lunging out over my step I nearly trip up in my eagerness to get to its source. A few hundred metres away, about where the light just died, come to think of it, a blue car pulls out into the road and screeches off in remarkable haste. My body now frozen by the roadside, my mind catches up with events: It did seem as though the reflection was coming from the area of the car, and that might explain the extraordinary haste to be gone…no stalker wants to be caught out on the job after all.

I can feel cold fingers reaching inside me and closing themselves around my heart.

I must calm my nervous system for my brain to function. Deep breaths, deep breaths. Ok, getting there.

“Ich verstehe nur Bahnhof [it’s all Greek to me], Bertie!” I mutter under my breath as I picture my alter ego regarding me with amusement in that irritating way I have imagined Bertie has.

The car. That’s the only lead I’ve got. My neighbour has CCTV trained perpetually on our road. I find it slightly disturbing that he is recording every interaction I have at my front door and every visitor I welcome day or night (there will be, of course, overlap with my property in the field of vision) but I have let it go, and now it could prove useful. I wonder if the quality is good enough for me to zoom in on a registration plate…

Strike while the iron’s hot, they say. What they don’t say is, go and weird out your gruff neighbour when you are in a state of high anxiety and potential paranoia. A cup of chamomile tea and a warm blanket will help me with my plan of attack.

“Good morning, Mr. Renowitzky, how are you today? I have been having some strange deliveries to my house lately and wondered if I could check your CCTV for clues?” No, coming across as too odd.

“Good morning, Mr. Renowitzky, how is the leg? Tell me, does your CCTV pick up car reg plates? I have a little mystery I would like to solve,” Maybe… enough to kindle his interest, while not seeming too mad, and with luck enlist his help into the bargain.

OK, here goes. Let’s see how Mr. Renowitzky likes a challenge.

I am on his doorstep and I’ve tried my opening line on him. Time for the CCTV gambit… No. No, apparently he’s going to tell me all about the operation (I did ask).

Well, I have stood on his doorstep for around fifteen minutes now. I am going to have to go for it or I will become hypothermic.

Bingo! He’s taken the bait. God bless Mr. R. And God bless his CCTV camera.

I have never been inside Mr. R’s house before and I find he has a dedicated room in which he views the CCTV footage. I am trying not to overthink this one. Probably just his home office.

“Come in, come in, here, let me move those so you can sit down… So, a mystery you say?” Mr. R bustles around clearing clutter from the chairs so that we can sit down. I hadn’t clocked how young he was before – the greying hair and perpetual talk of leg ops misled me I suppose.

“Thanks Mr Renowitzky. No, don’t worry. It’s fine. I can squeeze in… Yes, it’s a car I’ve seen hanging about, and I have been having these deliveries for some time now – funeral flowers without the funeral, really creepy - so you know, I thought a bit of amateur sleuthing, see if there’s a link…”

Now that I put it into words it sounds weak. I am anxiously scanning his face for a flicker of derision. Nothing, he seems to be taking it in his stride. Is that unusual in itself? Arrrghh! Second-guessing everything is doing my head in.

“If we can nail the reg plate we could go onto the DVLA site, check out the vehicle,” Mr R has the bit between his teeth now. He is focused, turning the conundrum over in his mind. “Of course, we could always report it as abandoned, apply for confirmation of the owner’s details…”

I can’t help wondering how he knows all this stuff, but he’s helping me, so I am shutting out the questions and applying myself to the task in hand.

Locating the car is surprisingly easy, it has been hanging around our road a lot, every day I have received a flower delivery in fact… Frustrating that it’s not so easy to zoom in on the reg plate; the quality of the CCTV footage is too poor. How to go from a car to the driver, then? I’m realising I haven’t thought the next step through. My spirits sink.

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